ASRA Pain Medicine Update

October 2021: Swetha R. Pakala

Oct 1, 2021, 16:38 PM by ASRA Pain Medicine
Swetha R Pakala, MD, is an attending anesthesiologist at the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in New York, NY, where she is also the director of the hospital’s Global Health Initiatives Program.

Dr. Pakala received her medical degree from the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine. Following an internship in internal medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, Dr. Pakala returned to UCSF where she completed a residency in anesthesia and perioperative care. She then went on to do a regional anesthesia and acute pain medicine fellowship at HSS and stayed on as an attending anesthesiologist on the perioperative team.

Nominator Mary Hargett, director of education and clinical initiatives, has known Dr. Pakala since 2010 when she was doing a residency rotation at HSS and calls her “truly deserving” of recognition.

“When she first rotated to our institution as a UCSF resident, I was immediately impressed with Dr. Pakala, particularly with her commitment to global health outreach. At that time of her HSS rotation, Dr. Pakala has just returned from a medical mission to Ethiopia and was enthusiastically discussing future humanitarian missions and her philosophy of sustainability,” Hargett wrote.

“Dr. Pakala believes that while patient care is of the utmost importance, it is also vitally important to leave the medical care location in a better place than when you first arrived. Dr. Pakala believes in empowering the staff through teaching, in both lecture and workshop formats,” Hargett added. “Her competence, composure, and pleasant demeanor put everyone at ease,” Hargett wrote.

During fellowship, Dr. Pakala received “The HSS Attending Anesthesiologists’ Award for Clinical Excellence in Regional Anesthesia,” an award voted on by all of attending staff. Additionally, HSS honored Dr. Pakala in 2019 by awarding her the first Dr. Leon Root Community Service Award.

Since joining HSS, Dr. Pakala has participated in medical missions in Ecuador, Haiti, India, Uganda, Ghana, and Vietnam, among other locations. In Vietnam, she set up an ongoing affiliation, and traveled there several times over the next few years to teach staff and share her knowledge.

“Dr. Pakala's interactions in Vietnam were so successful, that after a few years, her services were no longer needed, which meant that her goals of sustainable education were met. Dr. Pakala also started and still leads our department's Global Health Fellowship Program. To date, we have had over a dozen Global Health Fellows, who have traveled to hospitals in low-resource settings to teach (and to learn),” Hargett wrote.

Dr. Pakala has presented at national and international conferences on topics such as “Innovation & Collaboration for Surgical Disease in Uganda.” She has instructed in ultrasound workshops in locations such as Kenya, Malawi, and Mulago, India. She is an author on several peer-reviewed publications. In addition to her external academic activities, Dr. Pakala participates in several ongoing department educational initiatives. She is a member of the faculty for HSS’s Oral Board Preparation Program for Fellows and frequently acts as advisor for our rotating residents.

Dr. Pakala is an instrumental member of the ASRA Global Health SIG and has participated as faculty in past ASRA Meetings, as well as presenting several abstracts. Dr. Pakala last presented on her Global Health work at the Fall 2020 ASRA Meeting and plans to submit the results of her current endeavors on the impact of the COVID pandemic on Global Health activities for consideration for presentation at a future ASRA Meeting.

In conclusion, Hargett said, “Dr. Pakala is a gifted physician, who is dedicated to patients, colleagues, and to improving the condition of people living in areas with limited health resources. I believe that her considerable academic endeavors, as well as her clinical skills, and commitment to the betterment of health care throughout the world make her truly deserving of recognition.”


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